19 books like Harry Potter

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Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

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Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

This book’s origin story is a bit bizarre. The fictional characters in this series first appeared in Rainbow Rowell’s book Fangirl, about a young girl obsessed with a Harry Potter-like series of books who writes fanfiction about two characters who are not canonically into each other.

Rowell had so much fun writing the fic inside the book that she decided to write her own, otherwise totally separate, version of Simon and Baz’s story. What resulted is an epic romance, a dark twist on the nature of “chosen one” narratives, and all of the humor and detailed magical world-building that made Potter fans fall in love with this kind of series in the first place.

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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Speaking of fanfiction, Cassandra Clare was a big-name Harry Potter fic writer before publishing the Mortal Instruments series and other books in the Shadowhunters universe.

You may even be able to figure out who Clare’s favorite Potter ‘ships were by reading her work. Plus, this one was adapted into an amazing film starring Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell-Bower that we’re still obsessed with.

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The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

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The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians trilogy is for former Harry Potter kids who have grown up and are ready for something a little more mature.

We follow Quentin Coldwater, the outsider accepted into Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy. The characters are messy and dark in ways that would make even Sirius Black clutch his proverbial pearls.

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The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

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The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

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If what you’re looking for is a Harry Potter alternative for a younger reader, this might do the trick. Plus, if you want to read it yourself, by all means go for it! We know we loved reading this one growing up.

There are a lot of similarities between Mildred Hubble’s tenure at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches and Harry’s time at Hogwarts. They both have snooty, rich kid rivals! They both hate their Potions teacher! But Mildred doesn’t have the weight of the magical world on her shoulders. She’s just trying to get better at the whole “being a witch” thing.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events, Vol. 1 by Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events, Vol. 1 by Lemony Snicket

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A Series of Unfortunate Events, Vol. 1 by Lemony Snicket

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Bookstores positioned the A Series of Unfortunate Events novels as the “next Harry Potter”, even though they were released more or less simultaneously.

But they weren’t wrong in that the literary adventures of the Baudelaire orphans appealed to the same kind of readers. They’re dark, clever, and by the end of them you feel like you’ve lived a lifetime with these characters.

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

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Later on in the ’00s, this series seemed poised to become the “next Harry Potter.” The Disney+ adaptation also arrived this year, so now is the perfect chance to catch up.

It’s about a troubled, very special boy hero (check) who goes to boarding school (check) and discovers a supernatural world hiding in plain sight (check). But, instead of witches and wizards, his world is full of gods and goddesses. Perfect for the Greek mythology fans!

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7

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

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Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

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Why are we including a graphic novel about the budding romance between two ordinary British boys in this list? Call me a basic Anglophile, but reading Alice Oseman’s sugar sweet story reminds me a lot of the lighter moments shared between Hogwarts students.

So, while there’s no magic, witches or wizards, it does have loveable characters and heartwarming storylines that resembles Harry Potter when you squint.

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Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

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Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury

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Voya Thomas is a teenage witch in the future. That is, she will be once she completes a quest she doesn’t actually want to do or think she can. (The quest is to kill your first love, and how can you do that when you’ve never been in love?)

Refusing the call puts her whole family’s magical ability at risk. Now she’s duty-bound to save their legacy. All she has to do is fall in love and commit a simple murder. Easy, right?

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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

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This take on 19th-century literature has a magical twist. The Learned Society of York Magicians don’t do magic. They study it. They’re so academic that when a practical magician comes along the Society is shocked, shaken, and then disbanded by a spell.

That magician is Mr. Norrell. Jonathan Strange comes along later, and becomes his student. The two shake up England and discover many supernatural happenings along the way.

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10

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Meet Alina Starkov, a young orphan who doesn’t want to go to magic school. She wants to stay in the orphanage with her friend Mal. Even though she doesn’t know she has magical abilities, she’s not willing to risk it and flubs the test on purpose.

But, when she grows up and joins the army, all it takes is one stressful incident for her magic to emerge. She’s whisked off to the Little Palace to train with other magic-users called Grisha. Her world, and theirs, changes forever.

11

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth

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Divergent by Veronica Roth

YA literature took a hard turn from fantasy into post-apocalyptic when The Hunger Games became the big post-Harry Potter and Twilight obsession for millennial readers.

But, Divergent brought back one element from Harry Potter that had us in a chokehold: fictional personality test as plot point. This is like a whole series about a sorting ceremony and how defining people and communities by one trait can cause problems.

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Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

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Six Crimson Cranes by Elizabeth Lim

One of our favorite tropes in fantasy is a setting, like a kingdom, that has outlawed magic. That’s the case in Elizabeth Lim’s novel. Princess Shiori has been hiding her magic, until her engagement to a man she doesn’t want to marry.

Her magical outburst sets off a chain reaction that sets her on a path towards saving the kingdom, learning how to use her suppressed powers, and maybe bonding with the aforementioned fiancé.

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13

Graceling: by Kristin Cashore

Graceling: by Kristin Cashore

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Graceling: by Kristin Cashore

In this fantasy series, magic is called “grace” and magical folk are called “gracelings” who work for the king. The protagonist is a graceling girl named Katsa who works as a royal assassin.

During a mission, she crosses paths with a graceling prince nicknamed Po. The two set off on an adventure to uncover the truth behind a potential conspiracy.

14

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

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Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire

The world-building in Gregory Maguire’s Oz is so detailed it will leave you stunned. Not everything is explained in kid-friendly terms the way it is in the Harry Potter books. You need to quickly decide whether you’re going to put in the work or just vibe. Both are valid options!

Besides that, this is yet another book about special students at a special school where magic is an available course. It’s not just an origin story for Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West. Plus, the live-action version starring Ariana Grande is coming soo. Perfect time to read!

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The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

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The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

This novel takes the real-life history of the Dahomey Amazons (an all-female army that’s the subject of The Woman King and inspired the Dora Milaje in the Black Panther films and comics) and adds a magical twist.

Here, 16-year-old Deka lives in a deeply patriarchal ancient kingdom, where a woman’s worth is tied to her purity, and she must bleed to prove it. But when Deka bleeds gold – the colour of impurity, of a demon – she faces a heavy consequence but is saved by a mysterious woman who offers her a life-changing choice.

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16

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

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The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

This story takes place after its protagonist, Ceony Twill, has already graduated from a magical school. Despite her academic success, she gets placed in the field of paper magic and sent to a cottage to start her apprenticeship.

Despite her initial disappointment (she wanted to work with metal magic) she gets really into the origami-like enchantments. And of course, there’s mystery and danger lurking around the corner. Why can’t we ever just let the magical students do their homework in peace?

17

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

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A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske

Unlike Harry Potter, Sir Robin Blyth, the protagonist of Freya Marske’s Edwardian-era set novel, did not come from humble beginnings. He may not be high up in the aristocracy, but he is granted a position by parliament. That’s nothing to scoff at!

But, after discovering that his job is the liaison to the hidden magical world, he does find a way to scoff – mostly at Edwin Courcey, the magical world’s liaison to his world. Surely these ENEMIES won’t become anything else TO each other… right?

18

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

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This title may have caught your eye recently due to the television adaptation on Sky. The book trilogy is about the romance between a witch and a vampire. So, if you’re the type of person who dove into the Twilight books the second the last Harry Potter book was back on your shelf, this could be the one for you.

There’s also enough about the occult and history in these novels to tickle your inner academic.

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19

Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Nocturna by Maya Motayne

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Nocturna by Maya Motayne

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Two quests intertwine in this fantasy, Dominican-inspired trilogy. Finn is a shapeshifter. Alfie is a prince. Both of them have complicated relationships to magic and accidentally set loose an evil force that they then must defeat.

Why settle for a single Chosen One when you can have two? And if the magical adventure of it all wasn’t enough to tempt you, there’s theft, friendship, and palace intrigue galore.

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